Posted On 26 Mar 2024
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This entry is part 15 of 26 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#26

My dad used to love the Aussie language. He’d worked in forestry camps north of Melbourne, gone off with the 6th Div to the war, got captured and then spent 3 years as a POW in Germany in Pub of the month.

These times, and the subsequent years doing honest toil with work mates who became real mates instilled in him a love of our vocabulary, the sayings and the vernacular of his home.

For my dad it was perfectly normal to stand in floodwaters up to his knees and remark, ‘a few more days like this and the drought might break.’ Moonless nights were ‘dark as dogs guts’, a useless person was like a ‘letterbox on a gravestone’, and some things were as obvious to him ‘as the legs on a giraffe’.

And he knew people, my dad. He told me never to trust a man ‘who tucks his singlet into his underpants’, to understand that ‘the bigger the hat the smaller the farm’ and to never get in a shout with anyone as ‘tight as a rusty nut’.


But his favourite comment about this rich language which he loved was pointing out that Australia is the only country in the world where a dark horse can be fair cow. He loved that!

Thought it captured the very essence of the dry, laconic, ironic and colourful language what we speak ‘ere!

And he loved the tales of our past. In 1957 when the film of Rolf Boldrewood’s book, Robbery Under Arms came out, we piled into the old Vanguard and headed into Adelaide ON GETTING THE NEWS THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAD REFUSED HIM A LICENCE TO SERVE LIQUOR AND FOOD TO THE THIRSTY AND HUNGRY MINERS, O’CONNELL EXCLAIMED, ‘WELL THAT’S A BLUE DUCK!’


to watch it at the fl ix in Rundell St. Afterwards we walked to Mary Martins to buy the book.

I didn’t read it until years later and until I started researching a ride down through high country to Anglers Rest, this was the only Boldrewood I’d read.

That changed when I found that his 1892 story, ‘Nevermore’ was centred around Omeo so I logged onto Project Gutenberg, got the PDF and got reading.


Boldrewood’s Omeo is described as a, ‘mighty rough town’ which had ‘the worst reputation of any goldfield’ and where ‘the worst villains in all Australia are gathered together’. The ride to it was, ‘dreadful bad…long and tedious… (and)..positively dangerous’. In the town, ‘you stand a chance of being arrested at any time’, and it was, ‘the centre of a lawless region and a roving population’.

Surely, there must have been some bad stuff too!!!


So anyway I got myself to Corryong and then cut south on the Benambra Road through the gorgeous Nariel Valley before 76kms of gravel, none of which was ‘dreadful’, ‘tedious’, or even ‘dangerous’. I was beginning to feel fabulously let down by the time I rejoined the tar just north of Benambra for the sweet, sweet ride into the ‘distant, rude..(and) isolated’ Omeo.

I stopped for a refresher at the gorgeous art deco Golden Age Hotel before filling the tank and heading back north for the 28kms of sheer riding pleasure on the newly sealed smooth serpentine and scenic Omeo Hwy to Anglers Rest.


The Blue Duck Inn is a landmark pub for riders. It stands alone at the apex of a hairpin bend on the Highway. There is no town, no general store, no post office, just the Blue Duck. And a bridge. And it’s beautiful.

I parked out front, exfoliated the riding gear on the vine-covered verandah and went inside where the bar, bathed in afternoon sunshine, was more welcoming than the fella behind it.


I was the only rider staying this night but he’d not bothered to bone up on my name and when I asked if there was undercover parking, his response was that no rain was expected. Eh?? Then he told me I was in room 4 but didn’t bother to give me a key, so after a trudge back down to collect it, I got back and opened the door.

The Blue Duck is an inn, not a pub and the rooms are fully self-contained, more motel than pub. The block of six rooms (4 rated as ‘rustic’ and the other two as ‘delux’) is on the hill 40 or so metres up from the pub itself and when the vines are fully leaved, the approach is pure rustic beauty.

Finally with key in hand I got back to the unit block. Now, how do I say this next bit coz it’s hard to describe being disappointed in a thing of beauty?

Er, very shortly before I set off on this ride, I’d broken up with the woman I love. This was to be a getaway ride. I needed to get on the bike, be at one with the road and just change the horizon, clear the head. I probably needed a single bed in an old style pub.

But opening that door, to my standard, ‘rustic’ room, I was hit by the fact that the Blue Duck Inn is no such place. Their rooms are amongst the nicest, most tasteful and ‘couple welcoming’ rooms I’d stayed at in a long while. I felt, deeply, just how much a wonderful woman from outback Qld would’ve loved this place!

Light streams in through a sky light onto the polished wooden walls and floor. The room is dominated by a generous double bed and a wood fire. A gas oven and cook top is in the corner and under the window is a sturdy table setting for four.

At the rear is another room with a double bed and a set of bunks. The door to it carries a warning that if you’ve not paid for the extras, you shouldn’t be a’comin in!

With all beds taken, even with one rider in the doubles, each room will sleep four comfortably but truly this is a place for couples and two couples are going to feel really at home.

What you’ll notice pretty soon is the paucity of power points in the room.

The Blue Duck is totally off the grid: no mains power, no internet, no mobile phone and all power comes from a diesel generator which chugs along in the background at night but is switched off when the bar closes.

Night power comes from the silent battery backup and is thus a valuable commodity. If you have batteries that need recharging, there’s a million outlets in the bar when it’s open so you just need to do it down there.

The power limitations are also the reason for the gas fired fridge, the wood burning fire and the lack of hair dryers, electric blankets and any air-con. If it gets hot, open a window, they’re all fully screened! If it gets cold, stoke up the fire and spoon that pillion!

All rooms, of course are non-smoking as is the front balcony of the block and the veranda that rings the bar.

Back at the bar I chat with Lana who’s owned the place for 7 years with her partner, Michael a cabinet maker who’s done all the renno’s on the rooms and overseen the installation of the generators.

This is their first pub after a background in B&B’s and they are fully committed to looking after riders.

A standard week’ll see about 100 of us dropping in on the way up or down the Omeo or looping to Falls Creek and Bright and groups from clubs like Ulysses regularly stay for three days at a time. It used to be a Fishermans Retreat, says Lana, but now it’s a motorcyclists’ retreat. (It’s also the only place I’ve seen images of bikes on stubby holders!)

The restaurant is open Wed to Sunday (Monday is off to Albury to stock up day) but a good option if you’re coming with a group, is to buy your food at somewhere like Omeo with its FoodWorks and good local butcher, and to cook up on one of the several beautiful BBQ’s in the Duck’s grounds.

Not that the bar’s not good! I love a place where photos and memorabilia of its past cover the walls and if you are eating in, their Rogan Josh is famous, they serve a nice smoked trout pasta and the 400g prime scotch fillet is their speciality.

A schooner here will set you back $6.00 which is the maximum I’ve come across outside north west oz.

Rooms work out at $70.00 a head but if you’ve four in the room, Lana’s prepared to haggle, but only if you tell her you’re coming on two wheels when booking.

But be warned that the Duck closes each year from the Queens Birthday in June until the first weekend of September.

After we get all the details out of the way Lana begins to tell the history of the place, how it’s been standing for 110 years and how a bloke called O’Connell, whose picture’s on the wall, first built it with the hope of servicing the miners in the local gold and tin mines.

On getting the news that the government had refused him a licence to serve liquor and food to the thirsty and hungry miners, O’Connell exclaimed, ‘Well that’s a blue duck!’


Lana explained that a ‘blue duck’ was a worthless mine, a hole in the ground with no metal worth mining.

“A blue duck,” she says, “is a white elephant.” I smiled. My arms goosed up. How I wish my dad had been around still to hear that one!

The Blue Duck Inn at Anglers Rest rated as three helmets on our scale with the power limitations and lack of undercover parking dragging it down a bit.

It’s not cheap either for a bed or in the bar but it’s a very memorable place to stay, surrounded by some of Australia’s best roads. Will I be back?

Will I what!!!!!

Just want to thank my HR department for their continued inspiration and motivation to ride this country and experience such places.



Full disclosure: I was given a discount on my accommodation at the Blue Duck. This in no way affected my comments or review.

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